Is it possible to go on a pilgrimage to a virtual object? How would the lives of humans (and non-humans) be if, in the future, they found themselves in a completely virtual reality? Would they find spirituality and have religious experiences there?
Under the influence of virtual drugs, visitors can enter a virtual sacred site in Sacred Hill, a VR project that is part of research project False Mirror, in which we speculate about what future (post-)human life may be like in a completely virtual world.
In False Mirror, artists/designers Ali Eslami, Mamali Shafahi and Klasien van de Zandschulp jointly undertake practical research into how life in a virtual world would be organised: what workplaces, living spaces and the public space would be like if these were to be realised in a virtual domain. Step by step they approach possible future scenarios, designing an endless city level by level. Using virtual reality, this city – constantly expanding and reinventing itself – will form the starting point for its visitors’ imaginations. The environment Eslami, Shafahi and Van de Zandschulp are creating forms an expansion of reality as we know it, in which the virtual sometimes turns out to be physical.
Set against this background,Sacred Hill specifically tackles the ‘sacred’: the literally meta-physical which people in our material world seek out using drugs, occult or religious rituals or meditation. Eslami and Van de Zandschulp study the impact of VR on our longing for higher consciousness, another state of consciousness, illumination or trance. Sacred Hill consists of an installation, an online application and performances that allow visitors to take pills, enter a temple and undergo a sacred experience – while ‘in reality’ perhaps they just have just walked around the exhibition wearing a headset.